What differentiates one dental office from another? How can we tell if our dentist or hygienist is the person we need to keep our mouth healthy? Shockingly, many people select their providers based on their personality traits, rather than medical/dental abilities and proficiencies.
There are some helpful tools that can aid in evaluating either an existing dental office or selecting a new one. Consider the following Experience of the provider. The length of time the dentist has successfully been in practice and number of cases performed highly correlates to the successful outcome of the procedures performed. Having seen a lot of examples helps develop judgement as to how best to address any procedures/issues.
Patient satisfaction. Satisfied patients will happily provide references. Keep in mind the person giving the referral. Ask someone who shares the same value system and is looking for the same things. It is important to have goals when making a selection and then evaluating if the office meets or exceeds those goals.
Quality of work performed. Does the person making the referral have beautiful and reliable work done in their mouth? Has their provider discussed and implemented a life maintenance plan specifically designed for them?
Cutting-edge technology. There is ongoing investment in the latest tools, methods and materials used.
Holistic approach. A great dentist is a medical practitioner, able to look at one’s mouth and see their total health and diagnose issues of concern, ranging from possible oral cancer, high cholesterol and bleeding issues to more serious medical problems.
Treatment planning and management rigor. A well-organized practice will have a solid plan, good systems for managing records, and will be able to do successful case management.
Communication. As in any relationship, we need a good open rapport with our care provider. We should be able to present concerns as a patient and feel heard. The doctor and team should be good at listening and processing our input, and together, adapt strategy where necessary.
Teamwork. The dentist and the hygiene staff absolutely must be on the same page and level of training. The hygienist should be able to detect similar issues as those that may concern the dentist. Otherwise those issues can go unnoticed.
Responsiveness. Can a patient obtain prompt assistance from the practice, whether it is a question about insurance or billings, or a medical/dental concern?
Lastly, in these trying times of COVID-19, there are some additional considerations that one should look for in terms of protocols that high quality dental offices will have in place to keep everyone safe. Make sure the dental provider: uses proper personal protective equipment and does not use mercury removal masks in place of KN95 or N95 masks; follows OSHA requirements without shortcuts; uses air filters with UV sterilizers in each room/operatory; frequently uses medical hand sanitizers; has COVID guidelines that are printed, posted and followed by both patients and team members; and uses additional suctions in hygiene rooms while aerosol is created.
Once we have selected the right dentist, we should make sure we understand treatment proposed and agree with treatment recommended. Ask questions. If we are not satisfied with the answers, then get a second or third opinion if needed.
E Dental Solutions is located at 2504 E. River Rd., Tucson. Connect with Dr. Elahe Wissinger at 520-745-5496 or EDentalSolutions.net. See ad, back cover.